Media 3/17 Hybrid Theatre Pipe Organ

Experience the sound of the Theatre Pipe Organ

Dresden Residence,
Media, PA

Mark Dresden at his Kimball Console

It was 1992 and Mark and Carol Dresden decided that the pipe organ had been stashed in the garage long enough. It was time to build a music room. Not just any room would do for this organ. A 1915 theatre pipe organ with 700 pipes can produce quite a sound. A timber frame building was finally decided upon for the back yard. It took a day and half to build the 1 1/2-story structure, the parts of which had been designed and fabricated in a workshop. One of the walls of the Dresdens’ music room features a full-length window, and pine boards accent the roof’s interior.

As the crew worked, Mark Dresden ventured into the garage to point out various parts of the organ, which he said had been used at the Jumbo Theater at Second Street and Girard Avenue in Philadelphia before it was removed about 1937. Dresden acquired it many years ago.

“It’s a theatre pipe organ meant to mimic the orchestra,” said Dresden, pointing out that the organ has a set of brass sleigh bells, cymbals, a tambourine and glockenspiel.
Back in one corner of the garage was the organ’s “toy counter,” which includes all the gadgets once used to make the variety of sound effects needed to accompany silent movies. They include a gong, a steamboat whistle and automobile horn.

All mechanical items of the instrument were installed in the basement with the blower in a small building nearby. The wind line from the blower goes underground to the music room. All you get is pure organ sound without any mechanical noise, and it sounds just terrific.

There are two chambers with swell shades behind book shelves with the tuned, non-tuned percussions, and toy counter located in a balcony above.

In a previous life, the Kimball console was temporarily hooked up to the Wanamaker Organ in the Lord and Taylor store in Philadelphia during the rebuild of its six manual console, hence allowing the organ to be played.
Dresden, the retired owner of a market research business, became interested in playing the organ while stationed with the Air Force in Arizona. When he returned home, he played the organ at the Towne House in Media and was a staff organist at the Lansdowne Theater.

In 2016 we are told that the Dresden’s are selling the organ and moving on.